Jesus’ miracles do not prove he was God

It is a common enough Sunday School application to assert Jesus’ miracles prove he was God. Surely, were anything in scripture obvious, it’s that!

Except, it isn’t true.

We cannot simply look at Jesus’ miracles and claim they are proof of his deity. Many people, including prophets and apostles, did miracles yet we, quite rightly, don’t argue they too are gods. Therefore, miracles are not, of themselves, proof of deity.

No doubt, many of us would look at Jesus’ miracles and say ‘Only God could do that!’. On one level, this is true. However, Jesus did these miracles – not in his deity – but in his humanity. On this understanding, Jesus did these miracles by the power of the Spirit (see Acts 10:38). This still suggests Jesus’ miracles could only be done by God. However, they were done by the person of the Spirit empowering Jesus in his humanity.

This is not mere academics nor just semantics. This is an issue that really does matter and truly makes a difference to how we view Christ’s life.

On a lesser level, it is important that we don’t load the miracles of Jesus with a burden they cannot bear. It doesn’t take much to see the problem of citing Jesus’ miracles as proof of his deity (what about the others who did miracles?). It is always important to avoid poor argument in a bid to convince people of biblical truth (see here for further thoughts). In the end, such shoddy arguments are usually seen as hollow and often leave people further from Christ than when they first engaged with us.

In reality, Jesus’ miracles were never intended to prove he is God – just as the apostles miracles were never intended to prove they are gods (which, for the avoidance of doubt, they are not). Instead, the miracles of Jesus, by the empowering of the Spirit, speak of the Father’s appointment of Jesus to his very specific mission. Each miracle Jesus does acts as a pointer to his ultimate work through his death and resurrection (well explained here). That Jesus was empowered by the Spirit to do these miracles acts as proof – not of Jesus’ deity – but of his special appointment by the Father for this work.

More importantly, we make a nonsense of Hebrew 4 (amongst other passages) if we argue that Jesus’ miracles act as proof of his deity. As explained here, if Jesus can switch at will between his humanity and his deity, we have real problems upholding the view, taught throughout scripture, that Jesus’ full human life is counted to those that believe in Him.

If, however, Jesus’ miracles testify to his anointing by the Father for his salvific work on the cross, we can uphold the truth of Jesus’ full humanity, the truths expressed in Heb 4:15 and the truth that Christ’s humanity is counted as righteousness to those who believe, all whilst simultaneously upholding his miracles prove he was anointed by the Father and, as a result, his work on the cross would be effective.